Guam – Tim Rohr has filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA council over the current legislative session.
There was no agenda available when session was first called that is until lawmakers hit the session floor. It’s a common practice that has been done over the course of many legislatures now but Rohr says it’s got to stop.
“I filed a complaint with the FOIA commission about this no agenda meeting I demanded that this case be reviewed by the commission. The commission right there in the opening sentence is established or the council was established to deal with issues of transparency with the government of Guam. No higher profile meeting than the legislature itself discussing our business so where’s the agenda?” asked Rohr.
However Speaker Judi Won Pat says that there was an agenda that was made available once senators went into session and added bills to the agenda on the session floor something that she points out is well within the legislature’s standing rules. “There is a provision provided that we can go into session without a session agenda and then actually normally what the process would be is to adopt last month’s agenda but in that particular case that’s empty because we’ve gone through everything,” said Speaker Won Pat.
When they adopt the previous session’s agenda but it has been exhausted already senators are then allowed to place measures onto the session agenda. The standing rules says the legislature “by 8 votes may adopt a session agenda or order consideration of any order of business on the session agenda with 8 votes or change the order of business for that particular legislative day with 8 votes,” said Speaker Won Pat.
“I don’t think they should. I think they should change the standing rules where unless it’s really a grave emergency that people are notified according to standard practice what the law is,” said Rohr.
However the Speaker notes that she even called session two days prior rather than the two hours prior as the standing rules allow her to. “It’s only because we weren’t able to meet with COR (Committee on Rules) to be able then to open the entire list of bills that we have that couldn’t be placed on the agenda but as soon as I was able to get an idea of what those bills are resolutions and even confirmations I was able to release that the following day. So there was no intention here at all to deceive anyone or hide anything from anyone,” said Speaker Won Pat.
In fact the Speaker gave PNC a list of three bills that were being considered for placement on the session agenda the day before session and on the day of session the full list of all six bills on the agenda was released.
FOIA council Vice-Chairwoman Jayne Flores told PNC that the FOIA council would be meeting on Monday to determine how to proceed with the complaint.